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Tips for Better Sleep

There are several self-care steps to get a better night's sleep. It may take a few weeks to establish a new, natural sleeping routine. If unable to make progress after trying the following steps, call your doctor for advice.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening. Although alcohol is a short-term sedative and may quickly bring on sleep, it interferes with deep sleep. You may wake up suddenly after its effects have worn off.
  • Don't smoke, especially at bedtime. Nicotine is a stimulant, which can keep people awake or disrupt sleep.
  • Avoid or reduce your intake of caffeine. Caffeine stays in the system for as long as 12 to 24 hours. Remember that in addition to coffee, caffeine is present in chocolate and many colas and teas. If you suspect caffeine is contributing to sleeplessness, try avoiding any caffeinated products for at least 12 hours before bedtime.
  • Medications may affect sleeping patterns. Many over-the-counter decongestants and products with pseudoephedrine can be as stimulating as caffeine.
  • Take a warm bath an hour or two before bedtime. This can soothe tense muscles and help induce sleep. However, taking a bath immediately before going to bed may be too stimulating. Experiment with the timing to see what works best.
  • Get regular physical activity. This will help relieve tension or tire you out to sleep more soundly. Avoid strenuous physical activity for several hours before going to bed.
  • Keep the bedroom quiet and dark. If noise is a problem, try ear plugs or "white noise." Many people like the sound of a fan or air conditioner as they drift off to sleep.
  • A cool room temperature (between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit) is best for sleeping. A firm, comfortable mattress is also important for a good night's sleep.
  • Avoid long, late afternoon naps. Short "catnaps," lasting no more than 20 minutes, can be surprisingly refreshing. Longer naps and those taken later than 4 p.m. may disrupt normal sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia.
  • Read in bed for a few minutes before turning out the light. This helps to relax and increase feelings of drowsiness.
  • Reserve the bed for pleasurable, restful activities. Avoid doing activities in bed that can cause stress or anxiety, such as watching horror movies or balancing your checkbook.

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